Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


The latest addition to my website is Rachel Joyce‘s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. This is one of those quirky English novels about a seemingly normal and boring Englishman, who suddenly does something unexpected. In this case, Harold Fry, who is retired from working for a brewery and is living with his wife Maureen, their marriage having long since gone sour, receives a letter from a former colleague, Queenie Hennessy, who is dying from cancer in a hospice at the other end of the country. He writes her a brief letter and sets out to post it and then does not stop but decides to walk all the way to Berwick-upon-Tweed, where the hospice is, without proper footwear, equipment or maps. The book is the story of his journey. He meets some helpful people, sees something of the country and reflects on his life – his marriage, his relationship with his son, his job, Queenie. That he is a different and probably better person at the end of his journey is certain. The novel is witty, well told and, at times, poignant without being mawkish.

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